THE ROAD TO DORA
I was in the backseat of the Rodeo,
trying to catch the arc of Elizabeth’s laugh
with my hair whipping around
in the wind tunnel four open windows made
in late August gravel road travel
through Southern Colorado.
The sky was such a swatch of open
that my shoulders, chest, and spine lifted.
Pike’s Point was the only thing looming,
immoveable enough to make me breath deep
in the knowing that nothing
in this vastness could crush me.
Bill had his crazy giggle going as
he drove the Rodeo down divot and bump,
and Elizabeth was laughing, full-throated loud.
They were laughing between them,
about something the tire grip and wind
wouldn’t let me catch into, their voices
lifting out of all of those open windows,
lost in the dry air.
My skin was scorched.
My hair was a shadow of straw the same shade
as the mane of the horse a man bought me
once, in the New Mex desert.
When Bill stopped the truck,
Elizabeth went quiet and turned around
to watch me take in the sign
of the ghost town he’d driven us into.
So small, so simple:
DORA: population 223 before desertion.
I was the first out of the truck.
My throat so dry that laughter caught
a match flick and sizzled,
caused my heart to hitch
and my skin to prickle.
I walked that road,
Bill and Elizabeth trailing a few feet behind,
quiet now as dusk even though the sun hovered.
I looked at my boots coated in silt,
my hands as brown as they’d ever been,
silver rings and cuffs like lanterns along the way.
We walked that road into Dora,
banked with desert grass and broken rock.
I heard Elizabeth behind me,
talking obsidian and pottery shard.
Bill was quiet.
I led the trio in, and then
I led us out.
After the look around,
the goose-bumped shoulder to wrist crawl
in dry grass at the basin of what used to be a town,
I walked out, first, alone,
boot heels in the dust,
my body heaving,
my hair like a veil.
This is Dora.
This is a ghost town.
And Dora doesn’t live here anymore.
© 2005 Dora E. McQuaid
For Bill Cobb and Elizabeth May
ALL PEACE. DORA